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Friday, June 7, 2013

Launch 2012-2013: Second Grade Nooks

Objective: To encourage reluctant readers to read during 15-minute “SSR” time each day after lunch.

Set up: 
1) I allocated a desk drawer for Nooks to be kept.
2) I gave instructions as to how Nooks should be handled.
3) I explained Nook basics:
Turning the Nook on/off
How to navigate to the classroom library
Explained that Nooks are to be used for reading books only
(no on-line games or web browsing)

Weeks 1-4: Teacher selected individuals to use Nooks during SSR
Constant questions:
Colin: “When will I get a turn?”
Pablo: “So-and-so has had it for three days in a row!”
Teddy: “Can I have it after so-and-so?

Weeks 5-9: Teacher posted a sign-up sheet for Nook use
Frequent comments/questions:
Alex: “Fotis signed up twice in one week!”
Fotis: “That’s because I traded with Sam and Sam forgot to erase my name!”
Alisa: “Ms. Peterson, I notice that Sam signed up three times this week.”
Sam: “That’s because we didn’t have SSR on two of those days, so I had to sign up a third time!”
Recommendation: For my classroom, the experiment would have been more successful if I had ordered four Nooks instead of two. With four Nooks, I could have assigned Nook useage on a weekly basis by table group. I would order short selections or maybe even just magazines (Time for Kids, National Geographic for Kids, Sports Illustrated for Kids, etc.) to ensure that on one was in the middle of a chapter at the end of the week.

Advantages to this format are:
  • Everyone would have an opportunity to use the Nooks.
  • Students would be exposed to a different media type (magazines).
  • Less time settling disputes over scheduling of the Nooks!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Launch Grant 2012-2013: iPads in the LS Science Classroom

The best laid plans....

At the start of the Launch project, my goal was to use iPads in order to create a portfolio of QR (Quick Response) Codes that contained extension science activities and games for kids to use during choice time or as enrichment. In theory it was a good idea. QR codes are easy to generate. The basic premise is you take a web address enter it into a QR code generator program, and an image like the one below is generated that contains a link to that website, video, or any other digital data.

Young kids, instead of having to type long web addresses, can scan the code (with a QR code scanner app) in order to get to the place or video. It is a great idea and particularly useful for younger students who are still practicing literacy skills, never mind keyboarding!

There are a myriad of free QR code generators including:
And QR scanners (from the APP store – free):

While in theory this was a good idea, and is a concept worth implementing for next year, I found that I did not have enough time in the science classroom to apply QR code use. Instead, I decided to use the iPad as a tool for the kids to express ideas, and demonstrate the knowledge they gained at particular instances during the year. I used the iPads during three targeted units at each grade level I teach: K, 1 and 4.

Fourth graders used the app Explain Everything which is a screen casting application to keep track of the work they were doing during the construction of the solar cars. They also made a movie for next year’s fourth grade with tips on how to solve some of the most common problems that come up during the design and construction of the solar cars. Below is one of the videos made.

To demonstrate their understanding of the mealworm lifecycle, first graders drew pictures of each of the stages of a mealworm’s growth and animated them with and app called Animator Free. Enjoy the movie below...

As the culminating activity of the motion unit, kindergartners designed and created marble coasters. Part of their responsibility included making sure they got a picture with their coaster. Once the picture was obtained, the kindergartners reviewed the path that the marble took on their track, as they animated their picture using the app called Animator Free. Take a look below!

The moral of the story have to go with the flow with technology! While the original goal of my project changed half way through it, I was surprised to learn what a great tool for the science classroom the iPad is. To quote from the EdTech Teacher folks iPads really did “help make (my...) science classroom a site of active learning and critical thinking, furthering student inquiry and connections with the materials.”
Movie 1

-Maria Elena Derrien

Launch Grant 2012-2013: LS French and Spanish Web 2.0 Tools

            This year, the Lower School Spanish and French classes (4-6) experimented with several different Web 2.0 tools. We were looking for inexpensive software that was creative, easy to use, and engaged students vocabulary and grammar skills both written and spoken.  Web 2.0 tools seemed to be the way to go specifically because most websites were free or less than $40.00. Many of the tools offered education specific webpages that provided classroom lists and rubric creators as well as the ability to make the content private to the classroom only with options of sharing it to the public. The following is a brief introduction to each web 2.0 tool, the link to each website, and examples from both French and Spanish classes. In addition, we added QR codes to our multimedia projects. To view them, use any smart device with a QR code scanner (most apps. are free to download) to see and/or hear the projects displayed.

A)  Sound Cloud
B)  QR Code Creator
C)  Animoto
D)  Pixton
E)  Glogster


            Sound cloud is a "social sound platform" that lets anyone share sounds publically or privately on any smart device and computers.  Students in the Spanish classes used Sound Cloud to record paragraphs describing themselves using adjectives. Later we turned their audio into QR codes. Students were able to use ipads to individually record and upload their audio simultaneously.  

Pros:                                                                                             Cons:

Easy to use                                                                                    Registration
Good sound quality                                                                      Another password and user name
Ability to make sounds private
Website for QR codes
Sign in to multiple devices on one account
Easy to share


     With QR, QR codes were created for Spanish student's Animoto and sound cloud activities. Students could scan their smart devices and watch their web 2.0 tool projects come to life. The QR codes could be created with different colors, printed and emailed. The QR codes were a fun way to display students work and keep an element of surprise when presenting projects. Students liked the idea of creating scavenger hunts using QR codes in our future language classes.

Pros:                                                                        Cons:

Easy to use                                                               Takes time to add each webpage
Easy to print
No registration

C) ANIMOTO:                                           

            In the French and Spanish classes we experimented with Animoto. Animoto is a creative website to make quick and easy videos. Students created video flashcards to practice new vocabulary and verbs. We liked the user friendliness of being able to log on to one account on several computers or iPads to create videos, and students were able to create Animotos in one class period. There were limitations  Students were engaged and expressed their enjoyment with the project. The videos were fun to watch and they asked to use Animoto again for additional projects.

 Pros                                                                         Cons:                                            
Easy to use                                                               Computer and iPad Animoto different
Many users on one account                                      Another registration
QR code friendly                                                      Pay for upgrade
Easy to share with others                                          Difficult to find songs without English
Ability to make private and public                            Photo bank limited
Good online tutorials

D) Pixton:

            Students in French and Spanish explored Pixton. Pixton is a website that creates fun and easy comics for a small fee. What we liked about Pixton was it allowed us to create class lists, rubrics and projects for students. We could track each student on a private school account as well as grade and comment on each of their projects. Students made comics using new vocabulary and grammar for basic conversations. When students first used Pixton, it took a class period to familiarize themselves with the program and several class periods to complete. For the first project we let them explore, but quickly realized that they were distracted making their avatars rather than focusing on the assignment. The second time around, we found more productive to create the comic and have them fill in the conversations. Students enjoyed Pixton and expressed that they didn't want to stop using it.

Pros:                                                                                 Cons:

inexpensive                                                                        Not free
QR code friendly                                                               Accent marks difficult to use
Can make private                                                               Takes some time to set up
Class list creator                                                                 Another registration/password
track student homework/work                                    
Rubric creator
comment on student work
students can comment on students work
Make private
Access to all accounts
Can create accounts for students on one main account
Access to edit
Easy to share
Easy to use
Easy to contact support via email or phone
Great online tutorials

E) Glogster:

Spanish and French students explored Glogster to create virtual posters for their MFA Projects, and in French, to create personal narratives to describe themselves. Students in both classes created Glogs to write and to illustrate information about their French or Spanish artists for their MFA Action projects (collabration between Art, Culture and Technology for MFA Day.) We liked that students were able to make posters without the mess, it was easy to use, and students could add illustrations, videos and music to support their research in one place. It was not easy to add accent marks and students demonstrated frustration. The only way we could add them was to use one specific font in a word document then copy and past the accents to the Glog.  Students expressed that they liked sing glogs and wanted to use them again.

Pros:                                                                                Cons:

inexpensive                                                                      Not free
QR code friendly                                                             Accent marks difficult to use
Can make private                                                             Takes some time to set up
Class list creator                                                               Another registration/password
track student homework/work
Make private
Access to all accounts
Can create accounts for students on one main account
Access to edit
Easy to share
Easy to use
Good online tutorials

            Overall, we found these web 2.0 tools to be a fun way to present old material and make it new and fresh. Each tool was easy to use with plenty of tutorials to help along the way. Becoming familiar with the programs varied in time. We were often frustrated about registration and remembering different username and passwords. In addition, we had to actively make content private for websites we did not purchase and made specifically for the classroom. We enjoyed discovering new tools and watching students engaged in displaying their different language skills.

-Cristina Carrion Murphy and Soizick Munir

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Launch Grant 2012-2013: Using iPads to enhance 2nd grade music class

Below are comments about a variety of apps I found on iPad.  Some I used in 2nd grade classes.  Others I might like to use next year, and some are better for younger children.  There are many fun ones, and some very sophisticated.  My goal was to try to help the 2nd graders do something they couldn’t do without an iPad.  I think that goal was achieved when the children played music on iPad instruments.  I plan to continue using iPads next year - there is more to do!
Apps used in class:
Learning about instruments:
MSO Learn from the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra
Kids can hear an entire orchestra play, and then listen to each section of the orchestra playing the same piece. Also has bits played by each instrument solo, and recommendations for further listening available on iTunes.
Super Flash Musical allows kids to identify musical instruments by sound, as well as through pictures.  Free, or can upgrade for more instruments.
Learning Music History
Classical Kids Student's Edition.  Stories about famous composers.  2nd Graders  listened to "Vivaldi's Ring of Mystery", a story set in 17th century Venice, and told from a child's point of view.  This had been part of the 2nd grade curriculum for several years using a CD.  It was helpful to the children to have still pictures to enhance their ideas of the period, and the vocabulary they heard.  Several other composers’ stories are available as apps, but the amount of time it takes to listen makes it prohibitive to do more than one story a year.
Making music:
Toca Band - experiment with different characters in different “jobs” in a band.  In each level the character’s sound becomes more complicated until, at the top level, the character is the soloist. Lower levels include bass line, harmony, rhythm. The children who tried this loved it.  They suggested sharing their “bands” with the class by plugging in to the interactive whiteboard.  The board does not have an interface with the app, but it does project so that the whole class can see what the individual student does on the iPad.
(Dr) Seuss Band.  Learn to play songs by touching colored dots that float in the rhythm of the song.  Change the sound of instruments at will.  Earn more levels of difficulty and more songs.
The kids who are taking piano lessons like this one a lot.  The song that the app plays is introduced at various levels of difficulty.  Fun!
Music Sparkles allows kids to create songs on a variety of instruments. Choose other instruments to accompany. Try to play with the beat of the accompaniment.  Find and remember a sound combination you like.  The second graders loved this app, but it would have been great if they could have jammed.  The only approach I found was to have them work with a partner, listen to what that partner did, and try to add something to it.

Apps not used by the children this year:
Smule - this is an amazing app, but needs more support than our present iPads offer.  There are several different “instruments” available.  The piano is played by tapping colored dots that float rhythmically down the screen (similar to Seuss Band).  An ocarina can be created using an iPhone.  By blowing into the top of the phone the sound is produced.  The fingering is on the screen held between the two hands with 2 or 3 holes on each side.  The app offers several different popular songs, and individuals can join the band.  As with Garage Band, the person playing along has to be quite competent on the instrument in order to play at the proper tempo, with the proper pitches and rhythm.  Smule is another way to “Jam”.  
Garage Band (see apps used by the teacher)  The instruments available in garage band are incredible. They can be set up and played in ways that would not be possible on a non-digital version of the instrument.  Given more time, 2nd graders could play endlessly with the sounds on Garage Band.  Similar to Music Sparkles in the creative arena, but with the sounds of real instruments.  
I watched the entire instruction series of youtube videos to get a grasp on how to Jam using Garage Band.  It would require more equipment than we have at this point in time, and would be difficult to do with most second grade children.  Better for middle or upper school students - or their teachers!
Monkey Drum have the monkey copy your rhythm.  When my 9 yr old grandson got hold of it he had the monkey spinning it’s head around.  This app is ready for any age!
Singing Fingers - finger painting with sound.  As you make a sound you also draw on the screen.  The sound is saved, linked to the drawing.  Playback occurs when you touch the picture drawn - can be reversed, scratched.  The sound follows your finger.
Piano Pad - records songs on a keyboard labelled with letters for each key.  Shows the notes being played on a staff simultaneously.  Lots of options for playing with the song recorded.
Pitch Painter - by Morton Subotnick  Draw a melody with your finger.  Then play with it - invert, play backwards. Global music component allows choosing instruments from different parts of the world.  Change one “painting” to instruments from different continents.
Go Go Xylo - choose a prerecorded song.  The app shows how to play the song on a colorful xylophone.  The notes for the song are highlighted in music notation.  With or without singing the words and/or accompaniment.
I Can Xylo - leads you through playing a song by highlighting the note to press on a xylophone. Good for younger kids, or anyone inexperienced on a xylophone.

Apps used by the teacher:
Garage Band - this is a handy recording device for live recording of children’s performances, using the microphone option. The file can be sent via e-mail to a computer where editing can happen.  I haven’t determined whether there is a music editing app for iPad, so I edit the files on my computer using Audacity, a free download.  Little children love to hear themselves singing, so I recorded various different class throughout the year, and they enjoyed listening.  Sometimes the recordings are used for performances in the gym where it’s nice to have the security of the students being able to sing with a recording of themselves.

-Ada Park Snider